There is clearly no lack of Japanese restaurants in Singapore. Step into any mall and you’re bound to chance upon one (and sometimes, more). But to find one that is Halal... ah, that presents a challenge. It’s not impossible, but Halal Japanese restaurants in Singapore are few and far between.
When I found Fu-men, I was over the moon. I’ve always loved finding restaurants that are not overly advertised, because most of the time, these turn out to be great gems with exceptional food. And this is one of them. Both my twin brother and I love this place so much that once, we came here three times in a week!
Located in the basement of Hong Leong Building, this Japanese eatery really is a hidden gem within the heart of the CBD. It was opened by Fukuoka native and chef Teppei Yamashita; the same guy who runs an F&B empire with familiar names like Man Man Unagi and Men-Men Tei Ramen under its belt.
A friend recommended the prawn tempura udon; and it didn’t disappoint. I find their soup incredibly addictive, and I always ask for refills whenever ordering this dish.
If you know chef Teppei, you’ll also know that he’s all about creating authentic Japanese dishes at affordable prices. Fu-men is exactly that. They serve Hakata-style udon (mainly found in Fukuoka), which is actually mildly thicker, softer, smaller and more tender than the ones you’re probably more familiar with (a.k.a. the Sanuki-style udon).
This style of udon is already considered a rarity outside of Japan as it is, which is one of the reasons why I was so excited to find out that this eatery is also Halal-certified (double rarity!). I’m not particularly a big fan of udon (perhaps I’ve been eating the less authentic ones), but the ones here are really exceptional.
While they do sell other dishes like donburi and bukkake udon, I suggest sticking to the Hakata-style udon because that’s what they’re known for. Go for the prawn tempura udon, and head over to the self-service station to add extra toppings or refill your bowl with the iconic clear broth flavoured with kelp, anchovies, fish stock and no preservatives.
The decor here is pretty typical – concrete floors, functional wooden tables and chairs and minimal Japanese embellishments. While there’s nothing that really stands out here, make sure you try taking photos from different angles and you might just end up with your very own masterpiece.
As for the food, make sure you know ahead of time what you want to order so that you can plan in your head how you might want to take the shot. It helps to do some research to see what the dish you want looks like when you get there to get a better idea. Bring some props if you need to and think out of the box.
Come with friends so you can order more than one dish. Wait for them all to arrive before arranging them in a way that makes the food look super appetising so you can take a nice flatlay. You can also ask your friends to help out by asking them to use their hands to pretend like they’re about to dig in, or by asking them to hold up the dishes, or by using their phone’s flashlight for extra lighting (cover the flash with a layer of tissue to get a soft lighting effect). And if you’re using an iPhone, try shooting using the Portrait Mode for a cool shot.